We'll all celebrate Thanksgiving this week, but some artists have reasons to be especially thankful this year. Here's a round-up of artists (and others) who have much for which to give thanks. I'll follow it with a list of artists who had big "turkeys" this year. (No fair jumping ahead to the snarky stuff.)
Taylor Swift—In October, Swift posted the biggest one-week sales tally (1,208,000) in more than 10 years. She's only the fourth artist (and the first woman) to top the 1 million mark in weekly sales more than once. As a little bonus, she landed her first #1 single on the Hot 100.
Adele—In February, she tied Beyonce's record for most Grammys won in one night by a female artist (six). 21 will make Adele the first artist to have the #1 album of the year on Billboard's year-end chart recap two years running since Michael Jackson's Thriller in 1983-1984.
Rihanna—The 24-year old singer this week lands her 12th #1 single on the Hot 100 with "Diamonds." Wanna know how many other artists have landed 12 #1 hits before their 25th birthdays? Two (the two youngest of the Fab Four): George Harrison and Paul McCartney.
Maroon 5—The Los Angeles pop group has ranked #1 or #2 on the Hot 100 a whopping 25 times in the past 15 months. The group also had the year's most self-deprecating album title: Overexposed.
Carly Rae Jepsen—"Call Me Maybe" became the year's most ubiquitous and widely parodied hit. It's #2 for the year-to-date, with sales of 6,136,000.
One Direction—The quintet this week becomes the first boy band in pop history to land two #1 albums in a calendar year. "What Makes You Beautiful" is the best-selling song by a boy band in digital history.
Lionel Richie—Raise your hand if, at the beginning of the year, you thought Richie would have one of the best-selling albums of the year. (Me either.) Tuskegee is #5 for the year-to-date.
Barack Obama—Not just for winning re-election, but for having one of the best campaign theme songs in modern history—Bruce Springsteen's "We Take Care Of Our Own." (Mitt Romney also had a rousing song, Kid Rock's "Born Free.")
Mumford & Sons—In September, their sophomore album, Babel, sold 600K copies in its first week. That's 120 times the first-week sales (5K) of the group's 2010 debut album, Sigh No More.
Jason Aldean—He's the only male solo artist (from any genre) with two albums that have sold 500K or more copies so far this year. (Adele is the only female solo artist to have achieved the feat. Mumford & Sons and One Direction are the only groups.)
Whitney Houston—Her 2000 album Whitney: The Greatest Hits was #1 on Top Catalog Albums for eight weeks this year, as fans remembered. It's the year's #1 catalog album, with sales of 870K so far this year.
The Grammy Awards—The show received its best ratings since 1984, the year Michael Jackson's Thriller swept the awards. (How much of the increased tune-in was due to Whitney Houston's shocking death scarcely 24 hours before the show began? Let's just say a lot.)
Frank Ocean—The 25-year old is likely to sweep the Grammy nominations in marquee categories on Dec. 5. Channel Orange is a lock for an Album of the Year nom. "Something Bout You" has a good chance at noms for Record and Song of the Year. Ocean is also out front for Best New Artist.
Gotye featuring Kimbra—The pair's classy "Somebody That I Used To Know" has sold 6,647,000 copies so far this year, more than any other song has sold in a calendar year in the digital era. In addition, it's likely to win the Grammy for Record of the Year on Feb. 10. (This would mark the second year in a row that the year's best-selling song also won Record of the Year. Adele's "Rolling In The Deep" achieved the two-pronged feat last year.)
Kelly Clarkson—Her #1 smash "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" is the best-selling song ever by an American Idol alumnus.
Phillip Phillips—His top 10 hit "Home" is the best-selling "coronation song" in American Idol history.
The Voice—The show received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program. Its arch-rival American Idol did not. See below.
Blake Shelton—On Nov. 1, he was an upset winner for Entertainer of the Year at the CMA Awards. He won because he's a good ambassador for country music on The Voice. He beat out Taylor Swift, who was vying to become the first woman to win the award three times.
Taylor Swift—She may have been lucky to lose that award. She's in serious danger of overexposure and backlash. So losing an award or two at this point is probably better for her than winning.
K-Pop. A year ago, you probably thought it was an off-brand of soda. Now, thanks to PSY's "Gangnam Style," you that Korea has an active pop music market, too.
The Bond Franchise. Adele's "Skyfall" became the first song from a James Bond movie to make the top 10 on the Hot 100 since Madonna's "Die Another Day" in 2002. Here's betting it will become the first Bond song to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Song since 1981's "For Your Eyes Only." (It could even become the first to ever win an Oscar. We'll find out on Feb. 24.)
Flo Rida—The hip-hopper doesn't get much Grammy love or critical respect, but he lands hit after hit. He has had four top 10 hits this year, including the #1 "Whistle."
Payphones—The once-ubiquitous, now hard-to-find phones were the unlikely focus of a smash by Maroon 5 featuring Wiz Khalifa. It was the most unexpected shout-out for a passé technology in a pop song since Donna Summer sang "Turn up the old victrola" in her 1979 hit "Dim All The Lights."
Katy Perry—Her "Part Of Me" is the only single to enter the Hot 100 at #1 in 2012.
Rock Icons. Eric Church's "Springsteen" has sold 1,892,000 copies. That's no match for "Moves Like Jagger," the 2011 smash by Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera (which is up to 5,709,000), but it's impressive nonetheless.
Chris Brown—He landed two top 10 hits this year ("Turn Up The Music" and "Don't Wake Me Up"). It's the first time he has notched two top 10 hits in a calendar year since 2008, before the assault that nearly ruined his career.
.fun—A year ago, few had heard of the New York pop group. Their back-to-back hits "We Are Young" (featuring Janelle Monae) and "Some Nights" both rank in the top 10 for the year-to-date. The songs have sold a combined total of 9,030,000 copies so far this year.
Nicki Minaj—"Starships" became the first single in Hot 100 history to spend its first 21 weeks in the top 10. It's #5 for the year-to-date, with sales of 3,958,000.
Dave Matthews Band. In September, DMB tied Eagles as the American band with the most #1 albums (six). Matthews was just five when Eagles' debut album came out. (That last factoid is probably harder for Eagles to take than having to share the record.)
Bargain hunters. Over the summer, smart shoppers could have scooped up Phil Collins' …Hits, Bee Gees' Number Ones and Frank Sinatra's Nothing But The Best for just $2.97. For all three albums combined, thanks to 99 cent pricing at Amazon MP3.
Justin Bieber—His three hit singles this year were well-designed to enable him to make the tricky transition from teen idol to mainstream pop star. (Note to Justin: Don't worry about the people who don't like you. Just focus on the people who do.)
Music On TV—Just as American Idol led to The Voice and The X-Factor, Glee inspired Smash and Nashville. I don't think there has ever been so much music-related programming on TV.
Rod Stewart—His Merry Christmas, Baby is likely to wind up as the year's best-selling holiday album.
The Hunger Games. The soundtrack entered The Billboard 200 at #1 in March. It was the year's only soundtrack to reach #1. It's also the best-selling soundtrack so far this year (452K).
The Twilight Saga—This week, The Twilight Saga becomes only the second movie franchise in history to spawn five top 10 soundtrack albums on The Billboard 200. The first? Star Wars.
The Year's Turkeys
Green Day—Uno! has sold just 226K copies in its first eight weeks. (By way of comparison, 2009's 21st Century Breakdown sold 215K copies in its opening week.) This doesn't bode well for Dos! or Tre! Caramba!
Long layoffs—Two bands that released their first albums of new material since 2001 found that long layoffs are risky. Aerosmith's Music From Another Dimension! and No Doubt's Push And Shove both posted disappointing first-week sales. (It's too early to assess Soundgarden's King Animal, the band's first studio album since 1996.)
Van Halen—A Different Kind Of Truth, the band's first album with original lead singer David Lee Roth since 1984 (MCMLXXXIV) has sold 407K copies, not bad in today's climate, but a far cry from what they were hoping for.
Madonna—Sales of her MDNA album tumbled by 87% in its second week in April. Its first-week sales were inflated by an album/ticket bundle that was widely ridiculed.
American Idol—The show failed to receive an Emmy nomination as Outstanding Reality-Competition Program, ending a nine-year streak in which it was a finalist in the category.
Christina Aguilera. "Your Body" stalled at #34 on the Hot 100. Her new album is off to an even slower start than her 2010 dud, Bionic.
Lana Del Rey. Her Saturday Night Live appearance on Jan. 14 was widely panned. (Nonetheless, her debut album, Born To Die, has sold a healthy 408K copies.)
Glee—The show lost its chart mojo this year. Glee albums and EPs have held the #1 spot on the Top Soundtracks chart just four weeks this year, down from 17 weeks in 2011.
Norah Jones. Jones is a quality artist who doesn't live and die by the charts. Good thing, because her current …Little Broken Hearts has sold less than half as well as 2009's The Fall.
Paul McCartney. Despite warm reviews and a coveted performance slot on the Grammys in February, Kisses On The Bottom has sold just 240K copies.
M.I.A. She gave the finger on live TV during Madonna's half-time performance at the Super Bowl on Feb. 5. You just don't do things like that when you're there as someone's guest. (And I would rate her chances of ever being there as the headliner at near zero.)
To My Readers: I am thankful for my readers. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.